The (Semi) Final Stand
BY IAm Blanky - April 09, 2016

The Southeast Asian regions witnessed that bloody battle Imperium Pro Team (IPT) and Saigon Jokers (SAJ) shared during the Garena Premier League 2016 Spring Group Stage. Both teams exchanged blows at every possible opportunity as they aimed to finish off the other and move up in the standings ladder. Imperium Pro Team, battered and bruised but with better shot calling and team fighting, managed to push through and claim the nexus.

Now, they meet again at the Semifinals to face off in yet another highly anticipated and promising battle that will bring the worthy opponent one step closer to the title. Will it be the Philippine pride IPT or will it be the Vietnamese contender SAJ? Whose nexus will fall? 


Game 1

With both teams aiming to make picks, IPT was able to catch a successful skirmish on top lane with H4T3 doing tons of damage ensuing a double kill. Unfortunately for SAJ, with a slightly late teleport from Row, despite landing a wonderful Gnar ultimate, was not able to dish out enough damage to get anything in return. This only got himself killed in the hands of Light. Disastrously afterwards, SAJ tried to jump on H4T3 yet failed to pick him off after wasting so much resources on him. They got punished hard by suEz who managed to blow up Celebrity for a kill, bringing them further away from winning this game.

A major factor for this game was Light and how aggressive he was with LeBlanc being able to make picks and bursting people off the map. Both teams continued with their “pick” game yet from all of these skirmishes, IPT managed to come up on top. After securing a Baron, IPT’s push seem too formidable to defend and SAJ was forced to fight to save their base. They found themselves easily losing the team fight and with that, IPT closed the first game of this best of 5 series with a very strong finish. 


Game 2

Full action greets us early on in the Summoner’s Rift as JLC, being extremely aggressive, went toe-to-toe against Row and Jinkey as the two tried to gank him. But with the knowledge of suEz coming to counter gank, JLC continued the chase however, suEz came in slightly late and JLC got himself killed awarding the first blood to SAJ. Both teams continued exchanging blows but contrary to Game 1, IPT found themselves on the losing end of the fights. SAJ managed to continuously win skirmishes which punished IPT heavily. As SAJ continued to hunt and kill off separated members of IPT, they were able to set themselves up in a really good lead.

Forced to fight, IPT was successful in stopping the first attempt of SAJ at the Baron. However, being largely ahead of the opposing team, SAJ was able to win a teamfight that eventually earned them the Baron and two inhibitors. IPT defended their base with all their might and decided to go for what would be their final team fight for this game. They engaged on SAJ and tried to hold down Celebrity’s Kalista but failed. SAJ reengaged on IPT, won the teamfight, and ultimately won the game. It was a dominating performance from SAJ which put them in the scoreboard at an even 1-1. Both teams would now proceed to game 3 with a lot more on the line.


Game 3

SAJ displayed their ability to rotate and took control of the map, heavily pressuring IPT. SAJ grouped up early on and prioritized objectives. Unlike the first two games, Saigon Jokers played more conservatively and was rewarded heavily. Having played smart, SAJ secured more objectives and gave IPT no breathing room to react. IPT tried plenty of times to make a pick but was not able to find any success. SAJ overwhelmed IPT and found themselves sitting on a huge gold lead, 3 dragons, and 5 turrets already at the 25-minute mark. Forced to retaliate, IPT fought to stop the Baron attempt of SAJ which ended horribly for them as they lose four members which allowed SAJ to take down two inhibitors. SAJ continued to use their advantages to cleanly finish the game, winning game 3 as they take the lead as heading on to game 4! 


Game 4

IPT was off to a bad start with a crucial miscommunication as they pushed down the bottom outer turret. After being chunked extremely low from turret shots, JLC was chased down as he finished off the bottom lane turret and was pursued by SAJ. This scored a first blood on Poysanity. Things worsened as SAJ managed to pick off numerous kills but IPT is not one to simply back down. They answered back with their own aggressiveness. Both teams traded kills after kills but SAJ found themselves ahead from these skirmishes. The Vel’koz pick from SAJ was efficiently used and IPT struggled to properly engage against it. SAJ, with their superb ability to siege, took down an inhibitor. IPT looked to be in a dire situation but secured a Baron in exchange for their mid lane turret and numerous deaths. SAJ continued their push and strongly finished the game, ending the best of 5 series with a 3 -1. 


After an impressive run in the Group Stage, Imperium Pro Team’s journey in the Garena Premier League 2016 Spring Split came to an end in the hands of Saigon Jokers at Game 4. IPT, despite not making it to the Finals, has proven that the Philippines can fight toe-to-toe against teams in the international regions. IPT has shown the reason why they are the PH representatives and, man, they definitely REPRESENTED. Serving as a great inspiration for their fellow gamers and countrymen, we will surely see more from possibly the current strongest team in our country Imperium Pro Team!

Saigon Jokers would proceed to the Finals fighting against Bangkok Titans in the battle for SEA-premacy. Who will represent the SEA region in the 2016 International Wild Card Invitational? We are a day away from finding out!

Catch the games live at the Garena eSports channel and like the Garena Philippines eSports Facebook Page for more updates!